With the debut of Marvel’s Inhumans on ABC, viewers are introduced to the revolutionary beliefs of Maximus, brother of king Black Bolt, who’s actions set into motion the events of the series. The “Mad” Maximus, played on the drama by Game of Thrones alum Iwan Rheon, has a more than 50-year history in Marvel Comics of trying to destabilize destabilize the traditional Inhumans royal family, and it will be fascinating to see him make those same attempts in live-action.
One of the most interesting things about Maximus, as introduced in 1966 by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and Joe Sinnott in Fantastic Four #47, is that readers didn’t meet the character until his coup had already succeeded: When we first see Maximus, he had dethroned Black Bolt, rightful ruler of the Inhumans.
As it turned out, Maximus’ problem was that he had grown too obsessed with Medusa. Had he just left things alone, Maximus might have continued to rule the Inhumans. Instead, he sent a group of Inhumans to find Medusa and bring her back to the Inhumans’ Great Refuge so that he could marry her. That led to the involvement of Black Bolt, who showed up to take back his crown. This, right here, from Fantastic Four #47, is a brilliant example of how Maximus’ mind works. Kirby stunningly displays how Maximus quickly decides that anger is not the right play, and then he just pretends to be happy, content to set up a future plot …
That’s why Maximus is such a great villain. He knows how to read a room like few people can, and he always finds a way to exploit the situation. At the end of the story, Maximus tries to destroy humanity and fails, but he does manage to succeed in cutting the Great Refuge off from the rest of the planet, which tragically splits up new couple, Human Torch and Crystal. A year or so later, Johnny and Crystal are finally reunited, as Maximus’ “Negative Zone” is breached by Black Bolt using the full extent of his powers to break through the great barrier.
It didn’t take long for Maximus to once again take over the Inhumans, as he did so in 1969’s Fantastic Four #82-83 (by Kirby, Lee and Sinnott), in which he used a Hypno-Gun to make the Inhumans want him to be their ruler. He then imprisoned the royal family and planned to use the Hypno-Gun to take over the entire world. Luckily, Black Bolt was able to break the royal family out of their trap, and they stopped Maximus before he could fulfill his plan.
That storyline also introduced Maximus’ new group of followers, some other Inhuman criminals. They came together to take over a small Central American country, Costa Salvador, in 1969 in The Incredible Hulk #119-120 (by Stan Lee, Roy Thomas and Herb Trimpe), in which Maximus tries to enlist the Hulk against the United States Army. The Hulk sided with Maximus for a time, but he grew sick of the Inhuman and turned on him, and Maximus’ plot failed (it’s unclear how taking over a small Central American country would have helped him assert authority over the Inhumans).
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